Since becoming a first-time mom nearly three months ago, I've been hearing a lot about this so-called addiction to breastfeeding. A few weeks ago, in fact, a woman I had just met cornered me while I was nursing, asked me how it was going, then leaned over with wide eyes and whispered, "You'll get ... addicted."
Even Salma Hayek admitted her addiction. It feels like women everywhere are vibing on the need to feed. But not me. It's been 11 weeks, and I'm still waiting for that magical feeling.
I've read that the chemical release of oxytocin is like a drug. When you sit down to feed, you feel instantly mellow, but the only thing I feel at that moment is relief. You see, my daughter loves the breast so much that she cries when she finishes and she cries right before she gets back on, so to hear nothing but silence is what mellows me out.
But I also feel pain. Not as much as I used to, and no, it's not her latch, but when a hungry baby is vigorously sucking on your tit hour after hour, the nipple takes a real beating. I suffered through two painful bouts of mastitis to get to a point where it only moderately hurts to nurse.
I can't complain about sleep deprivation, because my daughter developed a pretty good nighttime routine early on, but that means I nurse all day long. She feeds every two hours to the minute, and if she falls asleep in between, she wakes up exactly when it's time to eat again. And she's definitely a gourmet, meaning she takes her sweet time on each breast, so when all is said and done, there's only one hour between feedings. During that hour, she rarely naps and is often fussy, so there's very little time for Mom to grab a bite to eat or take a shower. It can really take on a toll on one's emotional health.
I know that nursing is supposed to make for some serious bonding between me and my daughter, but it's those moments when I'm snuggling her, watching her laugh or smile and playing with her that I feel a closer bond. I'm also aware that there are countless health benefits, for both me and my child, and I wouldn't have gotten to this point if I didn't believe that was true. I just wish breastfeeding was less time-consuming. That way, I could better enjoy all those other moments, rather than watching the clock during feedings and fantasizing about what small thing I might be able to accomplish afterward, like paying a bill. One bill.
I have no game plan going forward; I still haven't decided if I'll keep nursing past six months or nine months or a year. I've made the choice not to go back to work because I have been lucky enough to provide my child her sole sustenance this way and I don't want to disrupt that. So I'll just do what I've been doing: playing it all by ear, taking it as it comes.
Ask me when I wean her how I feel then, but for now, I am not addicted to breastfeeding.
Image via Daquella manera/Flickr